As technology continues to play a vital role in addressing the challenges we face, we’re incredibly proud to share an update on how we’ve been supporting purpose-led ventures to transform lives with tech.

While the global pandemic highlights how important tech is to help keep us safe and well, we think it’s timely to reflect on our progress. We’re calling this report ‘Our Impact Journey’ to recognise the changing shape of our approach.

Read our report to find out more about our impact journey during the last 2 years as Social Tech Trust.


20th March 2020

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on almost every aspect of our lives and an immediate impact on many of the social tech ventures that we support.  The uncertain future is challenging, but we want to reassure the organisations we work with that we’re here to support you through these difficult times.

 

The health and well-being of our team and the community of ventures is our top priority.  We’ve taken a number of steps to make sure that we continue to provide the best possible support we can, while keeping everyone safe and healthy:

> We’ve stopped all face to face meetings and events and moved our AI for Good Programme, in partnership with Microsoft, to online delivery only.

> We’ve set up a new online community for peer to peer support for our venture portfolio and alumni to share resources, news and advice to help our ventures through this exceptional time.

> Along with a wider group of funders, we recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak is an exceptional event that will have an impact on civil society groups, and want to offer reassurance that we stand with the sector during this time. We have signed the COVID-19 funder statement.

> There are many useful resources for social enterprises, charities and startups in circulation and we’ll continue to share what we learn on our Twitter feed, @SocialTechTrust.

>As a small organisation ourselves, we understand that everyone is juggling multiple priorities right now and appreciate our ventures may need to pivot on their approach and turn their immediate attention to other things.

>Like much of the population, we’re embracing the benefits of tech and are all working from home, while managing the demands of team capacity. We still aim to be on hand to be a critical friend, so if you’re part of our portfolio or alumni and need a little help and advice, please do get in touch with us at hello@socialtechtrust.org.  We may not have all the answers you need but we will aim to point you in the right direction

>We encourage you to let us know about your challenges and concerns about COVID-19 and the impact it is having on your organisation. Behind the scenes we’re working hard with our partners to make sure you have the support you need, so be sure to let us know how we can help.

 

Best wishes,

Ed

CEO, Social Tech Trust

 


12 March 2020

Mayor of London’s flagship tech scheme, the Civic Innovation Challenge reveals award winners 

 

  • Raven Science to help tackle violent extremism online through anonymous reporting
  • 3D Repo making planning system more accessible to help tackling housing crisis
  • Six companies selected to work with TfL to tackle freight congestion

 

Two of the capital’s most innovative tech companies have won vital funding from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, after responding to his call to tackle key challenges facing the capital.

The winners were selected from more than 125 entrants to the second round of the Civic Innovation Challenge, delivered in partnership with Social Tech Trust and Microsoft.

Raven Science will work with the Metropolitan Police Service to develop their proposals to counter violent extremism online, while 3D Repo will move ahead with their plans to make the planning system more accessible to Londoners.

Raven Science’s winning proposal to tackle extremism will enable members of the public to report online violent extremist content through a smartphone app while remaining anonymous.

This will complement the Mayor of London’s ongoing work in this area, which includes recently launching a new £800,000 fund – with support from Google’s philanthropic arm – to empower communities to tackle violent extremism and fight intolerance across the capital.

Meanwhile, 3D Repo are making the planning system more accessible to Londoners without technical planning knowledge through a clear, well-designed online system which can be accessed via the cloud.

This is designed to make Londoners become more aware of future developments across the city – giving them the information and confidence to engage with public consultations on current planning applications, which will in turn help them play their part in tackling London’s housing crisis.

Each winner will be awarded a contract worth £40,000 as well as the opportunity to test their ideas with experts in each field and Londoners directly, through City Hall’s Talk London platform.

The Civic Innovation Challenge brings together London’s public and private sector with tech companies, which were asked to pitch new solutions to key issues facing the capital.

For tech startups and SMEs, the scheme offers the chance to develop products with the needs of Londoners firmly in mind. Companies taking part have access to unique insight, expertise, cutting-edge data and pilot sites, as well as mentoring and business support from City Hall’s partners. This gives participants the chance to develop the commercial potential of their ideas as well as providing solutions to the city’s challenges.

The Challenge forms part of the Mayor’s wider efforts to make London a ‘test-bed city’ for technological innovation which brings real benefits to Londoners’ lives, as well as supporting the best and brightest from the capital’s world-leading tech sector.

A further six companies have been selected to work with Transport for London to tackle road congestion caused by freight deliveries, with each winning £20,000 to develop their ideas. They are:

> AppyWay – a digital tool which helps organisations manage traffic flows, parking solutions and other kerbside activity.

> EMSOL – an easy-to-use dashboard to help organisations use data to take action on air quality.

> ENSO – developing a new generation of more energy efficient, durable and sustainable tyres for electric vehicles.

> Fernhay – creating zero-emission products for freight deliveries in cities.

> Ford Mobility – designing, growing and investing in emerging mobility services and connectivity solutions.

> Humanising Autonomy – developing real-time behaviour analysis software for accident and near-miss prevention to increase safety for vulnerable road users.

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world – but we face some significant challenges. My flagship tech scheme – the Civic Innovation Challenge – is a unique opportunity for London’s best and brightest tech companies to tackle some of the capital’s most pressing problems.

“I’m so impressed with the high calibre of entrants this year and the standard of competition means I’m sure we’ll see some really exciting projects taken to the next level – including by gaining feedback directly from Londoners themselves.

“It’s only through the public and private sector working together that we’ll come up with the best ideas we need to help improve Londoners’ lives the future.”

 

Programme Development Manager at Social Tech Trust, Anne Radl, said: “What I love about the Civic Innovation Challenge is that it has helped some of London’s most ambitious tech startups take a people-centred approach to make a lasting change in their communities, while expanding their business opportunities at the same time.

“The results have been inspiring – living proof we can shape tech to deliver the future we all want to see.  Congratulations to the winners and to all organisations that took part in the programme.”

ENDS

Notes


11th February 2020

Eight of the capital’s innovative tech start-ups have been shortlisted for funding from the Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge, to counter violent extremism online and to help make the planning system more accessible.

More than 125 entrants have been whittled down to the eight finalists in the second round of the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge, ​which will work with City Hall and the Metropolitan Police Service to develop their proposals to help tackle some of the key challenges facing the city.

Two winners – one per category – will each be awarded a contract worth £40,000.

The Civic Innovation Challenge, ​developed and delivered in partnership with Social Tech Trust, with Microsoft, brings together London’s public and private sector with tech companies, which were asked to pitch new solutions to key issues facing the capital.

In addition, another 20 companies will work with Transport for London and pitch to Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles – one of London’s ‘Innovator Cities’ partners – to try to secure funding and support in developing their ideas.

Finally, in the coming months, a further six companies will be selected from a separate shortlist of 20 to work with Transport for London to receive £20,000 each to tackle road congestion caused by freight deliveries.

The eight start-ups which have been shortlisted in two categories are:

 

Making a more accessible planning system:

  • 3D Repo – bringing down the barriers to collaboration for construction professionals
  • Agile Datum – specialising in delivering cost-effective AI solutions for the public and private sectors
  • LandHawk – helping developers identify land which positively impacts the environment and enhance communities
  • The Future Fox – a platform helping planners collaborate with communities on ambitious urban schemes

 

Countering violent extremism online:

  • Data Language – experts in data-driven product innovation and mission-critical AI platforms
  • Faculty – developed and tested a new AI algorithm designed to detect and flag terrorist propaganda videos
  • Logically – a social enterprise using artificial intelligence to improve how we consume and interact with information online
  • Raven Science – an intelligent software using machine learning to find, classify, and analyse extremist videos

 

Programme Development Manager at Social Tech Trust, Anne Radl, said: “For the last three weeks, we’ve been working closely with some incredible ventures to co-develop their innovations and ensure that they’ll improve the lives of Londoners.

“Congratulations to the eight ventures moving into the final phase of the Civic Innovation Challenge. It’s our pleasure to continue working with them as they further refine their ideas.”

 

London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “The Civic Innovation Challenge is a unique opportunity for tech companies to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our capital.

“I’m really impressed with the calibre of entrants this year and the standard of competition means I’m sure we’ll see some really exciting projects taken to the next level.

“In important areas such as planning and countering extremism online, it’s only through the public and private sector working together that we’ll come up with the best ideas we need for the future.”

 

Find out more about the Civic Innovation Challenge: https://tech.london/challenges 


7th February 2020

Companies that aim to transform how we recycle, make websites more accessible for people who are Deaf, and give the public a greater say in how their towns change have joined our programme that shapes AI to tackle challenges in society.

The latest AI for Good cohort, based in London, contains 12 start-ups from across Britain who will be given access to the technology, resources and expertise that will help them develop and launch their products and solutions.

The programme is run by Microsoft and Social Tech Trust. It is open to entrepreneurs from the UK who are developing a solution that focuses on one of four areas – AI for Earth, AI for Accessibility, AI for Humanitarian Action and AI for Cultural Heritage. By helping grow innovative ideas into established companies, Microsoft and Social Tech Trust hope to create a more sustainable and accessible world.

Recycleye is among the new companies that joined the cohort. Its founder, Victor Dewulf, aims to revolutionise the recycling process – from companies creating materials, to people putting packaging in bins, through to sorting it at large waste facilities. It does this by using cameras to identify recyclable objects and what they are made of, enabling them to be automatically sorted at a waste plant.

“Our motto is that waste doesn’t exist, it’s just materials in the wrong place,” Dewulf, 23, said. “The reason a lot of materials aren’t recycled is because the cost of sorting it at plants is too expensive, and that’s because the waste industry hasn’t really changed in the past 50 years. To sort different types of recyclable material, the industry is using a lot of large and incredibly expensive sensors, which can miss some items. Using computer vision means we can use just one sensor for the whole plant that’s much more cost effective.”

Peter Hedley, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, added: “Reducing the cost of sorting suddenly makes waste valuable. When the economics reverse and companies start to make a profit from their waste stream, recycling rates will dramatically increase. That’s a true boost to the circular economy and a huge change for the environment.”

Signly is another new entrant into the cohort. The company has developed an internet browser extension that offers sign language for web pages.

For many Deaf people who communicate using British Sign Language (BSL), they consider it their first language, ahead of English. However, a lack of provisioning for deaf people online, combined with a shortage of interpreters, means BSL users are often excluded from essential content.

“If you’re Deaf and your account is overdrawn at your bank, you might have to wait weeks for an interpreter, ask friends or family who can use BSL or contact a deaf organisation to use the website and sort it out,” said Signly ambassador Tim Scannell, himself profoundly deaf since birth. “All that takes time and the overdraft is costing you money. Now, BSL users can self-serve.

“Because the tool can work on any website for any sign language, Signly helps make the online world more Deaf-friendly. As far as we know, this is a world first.”

On sites where the content owner has enabled Signly, Deaf people who want a particular web page signed can request it through the browser extension. Signly will use qualified translators to create a signed version and use Microsoft Azure cloud to upload it for use online.

“Signly provides Deaf people with more independence and gives them the ability to find out for themselves, at a time and place of their choosing, about all the stuff that everyone else knows about through the internet,” added Scannell, 41.

Meanwhile, Hello Lamp Post lets people have playful conversations with street objects such as statues, benches and post boxes via text messages or popular conversation apps. The service is launched in conjunction with local authorities, developers and construction companies, and Chief Executive and co-founder Tiernan Mines sees it as a great way to get vital feedback on issues in the community.

For example, texting a special number on a sculpture in a park may start a conversation that includes the question: “what would you change about this area?” The person may reply “more cycle parking in the city centre”, which would be directly fed back to the council.

“We want to help local authorities make better informed decisions, while giving people more of a voice in the decisions made about their community,” Mines, 30, said. “The appeal of Microsoft’s AI for Good cohort for us was that it focused on business development, improving AI capabilities and measuring social impact. If I could have chosen what the programme would look like, that was exactly a match.”

The other companies in the cohort are:

Akari – helps companies use technology to support employees as individuals

Baobab – provides legal tools that track cases, manage teams and ensure privacy and security

BeneTalk – a digital coach and tracker for fluency therapy

Chatterbox – online language learning for professionals and organisations

Good Boost – transforms public swimming pools into therapy spaces for the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal conditions

EcoSync – cloud-based platform helping commercial buildings to stop heating empty rooms

miiCARE – specialises in the application of AI in the area of geriatrics

MyCognition – tracks, treats and prevents poor mental health through a cognitive assessment and training platform

OrxaGrid – provides accurate and secure analytics that provide efficiency improvements for energy networks

 

As well as support and technology, they will also be given space to run their business in the Microsoft for Startups office in Shoreditch.

Ed Evans, Chief Executive of Social Tech Trust, said: “The inspiring start-ups in this cohort are all driven by their vision of a better future.  We’ve developed the AI for Good Programme in partnership with Microsoft to nurture the transformative innovation that will help them realise their goals. Our four-month impact-led curriculum brings together cross-sector experts to provide these promising purpose-led tech ventures with the support they need to shape our future society.  We can’t wait to start working with them.”

Amali de Alwis, Managing Director of Startups UK at Microsoft, said: “These 12 companies are some of the brightest and most cutting-edge businesses in Britain, and I am delighted to welcome to them to our cohort. They are all aiming to make the world a better place by using technology to tackle complex problems – from accessibility and heritage to sustainability. Microsoft is keen to help them make an even bigger positive impact on the world around them, and we’re looking forward to supporting them through this exciting stage of their journey.”

The cohort starts on February 7 and runs for four months.


Twenty-three tech startups have been selected to join the Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge for 2019/2020, to develop innovative solutions to key challenges facing London.

Over 125 applications have been whittled down to a shortlist of twenty-three companies, who will work directly with Challenge Partners from the Metropolitan Police Service, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to develop the proposal they submitted in response to three challenges:

 

> Countering violent extremism online

> Democratising planning

> More efficient freight in London

 

Companies will benefit from a five-week curriculum delivered by experts from Social Tech Trust and partners including Greater London Authority and Microsoft, to access knowledge, expertise and insights of our networks. They also get the opportunity to validate their solutions and a route to market.

 

The companies invited onto the programme to tackle the challenge of  ‘Democratising Planning’ are:

 

3D Repo LTD – Bringing down the barriers to collaboration for construction professionals.

Agile Datum – Specialising in delivering cost effective AI solutions for the public and private sector that transform your organisations and give you the competitive edge.

Bulbshare – Helping the world’s leading organisations stay ahead of the game through customer collaboration.

CycleStreets Ltd – A social enterprise, working to get more people cycling through the provision of journey planning and tools for advocacy.

Emu Analytics Limited – Creating better services, places & communities by understanding location data.

Hello Lamp Post – A communication platform that brings citizens into urban decision making. It encourages people to strike up playful, text-based conversations with street objects using their mobile phones.

LandHawk Software Services Limited – Helping land finders and property developers identify land that positively impacts our environment and enhance the communities that we live, work and play in.

Open Systems Lab – A non-profit R&D lab working on open digital innovation for industry and society, currently working to transform architecture, construction and cities.

Skyscape Technologies -Unlocking urban rooftop space to contribute to a sustainable future.

Titan Reality – Indream (the Proptech brand of Titan Reality) develops immersive spaces, technologies and infrastructures enabling businesses, property developers and organizations to design and deliver immersive customer experiences.

The Future Fox – A digital platform helping planners collaborate with communities on ambitious urban planning schemes.

Tranquil City – Exploring our relationship with tranquillity in the urban environment to promote health, wellbeing and balance.

ZEG.ai – Helping clients create 3D in the fastest way possible.

 

The companies invited onto the programme to tackle the challenge of  ‘Countering Violent Extremism Online’ are:

 

Cubica Technology – Building state of the art algorithms, real-time software, and highly specialised turn-key systems for analysing and exploiting digital media content to detect criminal behaviour, protect assets and help save lives.

Data Language -Data Language experts in data driven product innovation and mission-critical AI platforms.

Faculty Science – Developed and tested a new AI algorithm designed to detect and flag terrorist propaganda video content to stop it ever being uploaded and spread on the internet.

Groundswell Project – Initiates and assists local communities to promote harmony and challenge hate.

Krzana – An AI engine that provides access to on-the-ground reports, images and videos, local and international news and blogs, public discussion, and content shared across social media.

Logically – A  social enterprise specialising in the use of artificial intelligence to improve how we consume and interact with information online.

LocalHalo – A smart messenger for chatting with neighbours powered by alerts.

Prodikta Technologies – Using the latest technologies to interpret global crime data, combined with advanced analytics and user collaboration.

Raven Science – An intelligent software using machine learning to find, classify, and analyse extremist videos.

Renato Software – Senso. cloud is an AI driven cloud based platform for online user threat detection.

 

The finalists for the TfL challenge will be announced soon.

In February, up to 10 companies will be further shortlisted to compete for a £40,000 contract to deliver a pilot project together with their Challenge Partner.

Later in the year, three companies – one per challenge – will be awarded the £40,000 contract to test their idea further.

The second round of the Mayor of London’s Civic Innovation Challenge was launched by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in November 2019 at a reception, hosted by partners, Microsoft, at their Flagship Store on Oxford Circus.

 

Find out more about the programme at tech.london/challenges


Mayor of London launches 2019 Civic Innovation Challenge, in partnership with Social Tech Trust

  • Innovation programme leverages London’s world-leading tech for good scene, bringing together tech startups, leading organisations and London communities to co-create innovative solutions to transform London communities.
  • The Civic Innovation Challenge is a collaboration between cross sector partners – Mayor of London, Social Tech Trust, Microsoft, the Metropolitan Police Service, the Greater London Authority, and Transport for London.
  • Tech startups will benefit from a five-week curriculum delivered by industry experts, the opportunity to validate their solutions and a route to market.

The 2019 Civic Innovation Challenge has been launched today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan at a reception, hosted by partners, Microsoft, at their flagship UK store on Oxford Circus.

The programme, developed and delivered in partnership with Social Tech Trust, offers start-ups the opportunity to work alongside leading organisations and co-create innovative tech solutions with London communities.  Now in its second year, the Civic Innovation challenge is seeking solutions to countering violent extremism online, helping London meet its housing needs and making the movement of goods and services in London safer, cleaner and more efficient.

Up to 40 startups selected to take part in the programme will benefit from business support and a comprehensive curriculum of workshops and training sessions from Social Tech Trust and Microsoft.  They will work alongside Challenge Partners from the Metropolitan Police Service, the Greater London Authority, and Transport for London to access data, networks and expertise. Participants will co-create their solutions directly with market users.

Winners will be announced in March 2020, with each Challenge Partner awarding one team the opportunity to work with them for a further two months to test, validate and roll-out their solution. They will receive £40,000 to support them in this process.  Applications are open until 12th December 2019.

The programme presents an exciting opportunity to drive social transformation in London communities.  With 36 percent of tech investment in the UK focused on London[i], there is a wealth of tech talent and innovation that can be harnessed to tackle some of the significant and persistent social challenges facing Londoners.

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said, “Like many cities around the world, London is facing a number of complex social challenges.  In a city which is already a thriving hub of tech innovation, we have a brilliant opportunity to leverage that talent in pursuit of social transformation.  I am confident that the Civic Innovation Challenge will demonstrate how the drive to address social challenges can inspire tech innovation and improve the lives of Londoners.”

London’s Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: “The Civic Innovation Challenge is a unique opportunity for tech companies to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing our capital. I would encourage London’s tech talent to put their creativity to the test and help solve these challenges.”

The Civic Innovation Challenge is open for applications from 11 November to 12 December 2019.  Apply now.  

End

[i] https://technation.io/report2019/

 

 

 


Eleven ventures will join the four-month immersive accelerator programme to develop their AI for good solutions.  All ventures taking part have a social mission and are focused in the areas of either AI for accessibility or AI for environmental sustainability.

The programme, developed in partnership with Microsoft, will help demonstrate that the biggest opportunity for AI is not for AI to shape our future, but for people to shape AI to make the future we want to see.  The social business cohort will benefit from a curriculum delivered by industry experts and thought leaders, engage in workshops and have access to a global network of successful scale-up entrepreneurs.

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said, “If we’re merely passive consumers of tech, we’ll have no control over its direction and little influence on its impact on our lives. By collaborating with Microsoft on the AI for Good Social Business Programme, we have the opportunity to shape AI to increase accessibility and benefit environmental sustainability.  This means we’ll have a better chance of achieving the future that we want to see.”

Eve Joseph, Microsoft UK Responsibility Manager said, “The cohort have been selected on the basis that they are using innovative technologies to solve complex challenges which affect society at large. From boosting crop yields, to improving the lives of those living with accessibility needs. I’m thrilled that we have been able to create this programme and these 11 inspiring organisations are at the heart of it.  I’m really excited to see what they can achieve.”

The successful teams are:

 

Access Earth

Access Earth is a free platform that allows you to find and rate places by your accessibility needs.

https://access.earth

 

Agricompas

Agricompas specialises in agricultural data analytics to create knowledge and decision support for all users in major crop value chains.

https://agricompas.com

 

Agrimetrics

Agrimetrics provides, connects and analyses complex data to drive greater productivity for agrifood businesses and deliver food sustainably.

www.agrimetrics.co.uk

 

BetterSpace

The BetterSpace mission is to turn the tide on mental illness, by creating a world-leading mental wellbeing recommendation algorithm.

http://www.betterspacedemo.uk

 

Citymaas

City MAAS has a vision to reduce congestion and emission in smart cities using Blockchain and AI. City MAAS Assist is a pilot programme that helps people with disability to travel in smart cities.

https://citymaas.io

 

ev.energy

ev.energy enables electric vehicle owners to enjoy savings on the cost of EV charging and a green motoring experience, delivered from renewable electricity sources.

https://ev.energy/

 

iDyslexic

iDyslexic is a new social app for those living & working with dyslexia & ADHD, with built-in secure classrooms connecting parents, students, teachers and caseworkers.

https://idyslexic.com/

 

Immersive Rehab

Immersive Rehab creates interactive physiotherapy programmes in Virtual Reality that improve the effectiveness of physical & neuro-rehabilitation.

https://immersiverehab.com/

 

Shock Innovations

ThermaFY from Shock Innovations, simplifies thermography by making it easier to compare and interpret thermal images.

https://thermafy.com/

 

Upstream Health

Upstream Health provides innovative technologies and new service approaches for health and social care teams, making a positive difference to clinicians, patients and families.

https://www.upstream.health/

 

WeWalk

WeWALK is the world’s most revolutionary smart cane developed for the visually impaired people.

https://www.wewalk.io


Vodafone UK today announced the winners of the first Vodafone Techstarter awards, shining a light on the start-ups developing technology solutions with a social purpose. The Techstarter programme has been created in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated supporter of socially motivated tech ventures.

The winners were revealed as Code 4000, Full Fact, The Children’s Society and Wayfindr in the not-for-profit category; and Alice SI, Blakbear, Lettus Grow and Walk With Path and in the for-profit category. The Techstarter Champion’s award – voted for by Vodafone employees – went to The Children’s Society and LettUs Grow. The ventures use a range of technologies, from mobile apps and the Internet of Things to artificial intelligence and blockchain.

In addition to sharing a prize fund of £300,000, winners will benefit from access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and Social Tech Trust, enabling them to take their innovations from prototype to market readiness. This will include coaching, mentoring and commercial advice.

The awards ceremony, hosted by television presenter and tech expert Jason Bradbury, included a compelling presentation from GiveVision, an organisation that created a wearable headset for people who are visually impaired. It has grown from start-up to a well-established organisation thanks in part to partner involvement and funding from Social Tech Trust.

Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive, Vodafone UK, commented: “The range and calibre of the Vodafone Techstarter winners show that the UK is home to a thriving social tech sector. We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. These awards are just one way we can recognise, celebrate and support start-ups developing and using technology as a force for good.”

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust, said: “Vodafone Techstarter is a hugely powerful platform that showcases the potential of partnership and demonstrates how cross-sector organisations can work together to create something truly inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing how these start-ups grow and thrive with the resources and support provided.”

Television presenter Jason Bradbury added: “I’m really optimistic about technology and the benefits it can bring to our society and economy. The Techstarter programme – and the support from Vodafone and Social Tech Trust – will make a real difference to social tech in the UK.”

Vodafone Techstarter Not-for-Profit Award Winners (supported by the Vodafone Foundation)

Code4000 UK CIC (Hampshire) – Code4000’s Global Prison Curriculum provides vocational training in computer programming, with a view to enhancing the employability of ex-offenders and helping to reduce reoffending.

Full Fact (London) – Automated fact-checking tools enable Full Fact to help prevent the spread of fake news, and even identify and fact check some claims automatically in real time.

The Children’s Society (London) – The Children’s Society Reality Check programme pioneers the use of immersive virtual reality environments to help children manage and overcome anxiety.

Wayfindr (London) – Wayfindr uses smartphone technology to give vision-impaired people the power to navigate complex indoor environments independently.

 

Vodafone Techstarter For-Profit Award Winners (supported by Vodafone Business)

Alice SI Ltd (London) – Alice is a funding platform for social and environmental projects that promotes data transparency using blockchain technology. Alice allows donors and investors to track exactly what impact their money makes, while reducing reporting costs for charities.

BlakBear Ltd (London) – BlakBear Agri uses new sensors and software to increase the yield farmers can get from their land to feed a growing world sustainably. It combines electrochemical sensing innovations with statistical algorithms to understand soil nitrogen levels and provide optimal nitrogen fertilisation instructions.

LettUs Grow (Bristol) – LettUs Grow designs aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for indoor and vertical farms to help deliver higher crop yields and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.

Walk With Path Ltd (Essex) – Path Feel is an insole that acts in real time by vibrating in response to pressure. This results in the user being able to feel the floor and stay balanced. It also tracks walking to aid diagnosis.

 

-ends-

 

Notes to Editors

About Vodafone Techstarter
Vodafone Techstarter was developed in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s charitable arm, and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated supporter of socially motivated tech ventures. It aims to uncover and develop ideas that harness the power of technology, connectivity and innovation to improve health, education, environmental protection or social mobility.

The Vodafone Techstarter award fund of £300,000 is being distributed as follows:

  • Not for profit Vodafone Techstarter awards – four winners receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by the Vodafone Foundation (UK registered charity number 1089625).
  • For profit Vodafone Techstarter awards – four winners each receive £35,000 and a 12-month programme of support and value-in-kind. Supported by Vodafone Business.
  • Vodafone Techstarter Champion’s awards – two winners, voted by Vodafone employees, each receive £10,000

The Techstarter judging panel were: Amparo Moraleda, Non-Executive Director, Vodafone Group Plc; Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK; Bill Liao, SOSV, CoderDojo and Social Tech Trust Chair; Clare McDonald, Business Editor, Computer Weekly; James Heath, Director, Digital Infrastructure, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Jen Hyatt, Founder of Troo.ai, Eartime and Big White Wall; Nick Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone UK; and Patrick Knight, Chief Information Officer, Travis Perkins.


Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated supporter of socially motivated tech ventures has received the backing of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to set up the Social Tech Venture Fund.
The announcement demonstrates the Government’s commitment to encouraging greater access to capital to enable socially motivated tech ventures to grow and scale their social impact.  It will address many of the challenges outlined in the Civil Society Strategy, with a focus on social transformation in three key areas; communities, health and financial inclusion.

In his keynote speech at DotEveryone’s Responsible Tech 2019 event, The Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport said, “While investment in UK tech continued to be the highest in Europe in 2018, social tech ventures can often find it challenging to raise appropriate capital at the right time. We need to encourage greater access to capital as these ventures scale and grow their social and environmental impact so we are supporting the foundation of a fund of up to £30 million of equity investment in social tech ventures. This fund will be run by the Social Tech Trust who have almost ten years of experience in supporting socially-transformative technology.”

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said, “We’re delighted that DCMS are demonstrating their support of this pioneering fund that will address the gap in the availability of equity investment, required to scale transformative purpose-driven tech ventures.  This presents a fantastic opportunity for us to challenge tech to work harder for the good of society.”

In addition to supporting the set-up of the Social Tech Venture Fund, DCMS will also support the development of Social Tech Trust’s programme of technical assistance.  This vital non-financial support will offer ventures access to the skills and expertise needed for their long-term growth and sustainability.

Social Tech Trust has over a decade of experience in supporting social tech ventures and are guided by a clear vision for social transformation to be the driving force behind tech.  Their portfolio includes start-ups transforming the way society operates – from Feebris, a mobile health platform that uses Artificial Intelligence to enable non-medical users to diagnose and monitor complex health conditions in the community, to Tribe, a social action initiative that uses data to identify and up-skill members of the community in areas in need of care, to become paid community carers.

-Ends-

Read Jeremy Wright’s speech at DotEveryone’s Responsible Tech conference.


Vodafone has today announced the finalists for its inaugural Vodafone Techstarter awards. The programme aims to uncover and develop ideas that harness the power of technology, connectivity and innovation to improve health, education, environmental protection or social mobility. Vodafone Techstarter has been developed in partnership with the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone’s charitable arm; and Social Tech Trust, the UK’s leading dedicated supporter of socially motivated tech ventures.

The twelve shortlisted organisations, both profit and not-for-profit, all have prototype ideas with a clearly defined social purpose. The ventures exploit a range of technologies from mobile apps to the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.

The finalists are: Alexandra Rose Charity, Code 4000 UK CIC, Full Fact, The Church of England’s Children’s Society, The Integrate Agency CIC, Wayfindr, BfB Labs, Good.Loop Ltd, Lettus Grow, BlakBear Ltd, Walk With Path Ltd and Alice SI Ltd. For more information, please see below.

In addition to sharing a prize fund of £300K, winners will benefit from access to industry and technology expertise from Vodafone and the Social Tech Trust, enabling them to take their innovations from prototype to market readiness. This will include coaching, commercial development support, mentorship, investment and partnership advice.

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK commented: “We believe some of the biggest challenges in society can be addressed using technology and innovation. Vodafone Techstarter is about recognising and celebrating how UK start-ups are helping shape society for the better; we want to empower small businesses to truly make a difference in society. I’m really excited to meet the finalists and see first-hand the impact their ideas and innovations could have.”

Ed Evans, CEO of Social Tech Trust said: “It’s fantastic to see such an inspiring group of social tech innovations make the Vodafone Techstarter shortlist. All of them are driven by social purpose and are making a positive contribution to people’s lives. We look forward to working with the winning teams to help them grow and scale their social impact.”

The Vodafone Techstarter winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 7th February.

Vodafone Techstarter shortlist:

Alexandra Rose Charity (Surrey) – Rose Vouchers for Fruit & Veg Project (RVP) – supports families on low income to avoid food poverty and access a healthy diet through providing vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables

Code 4000 UK CIC (Hampshire) – Global Prison Curriculum Build – provides vocational training in computer programming with a view to enhancing the employability of ex-offenders, and to help to reduce reoffending

Full Fact (London) – Automated Fact checking – its tools enable them to stop the spread of fake news, and identify and fact check some claims automatically in real time

The Church of England’s Children’s Society (London) – Reality Check – pioneers the use of immersive virtual reality environments to help children manage and overcome anxiety, thereby addressing a root cause of more serious issues

The Integrate Agency CIC (London) – Padlock – an online platform connecting businesses with freelance cybersecurity powered by up-skilling lone parents in marketable cyber skills

Wayfindr (London) – Wayfindr – gives vision impaired people the power to navigate complex indoor environments independently, underpinned by smartphone technology and high-quality user experience standards • BFB Labs – a mobile game to tackle anxiety – in young people by combining the most effective elements of cognitive behavioural therapy with an immersive gaming experience

Good.Loop Ltd (Edinburgh) – Good.Loop – an ethical video ad platform enabling brands to connect social purpose with better viewer experience and better ad performance

LettUs Grow (Bristol) – LettUs Grow – designs aeroponic farming technology and farm management software for indoor and vertical farms to help deliver higher crop yields, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture

BlakBear Ltd (London) – BlakBear Agri – uses new sensors and software to increase the yield farmers can get from their land to feed a growing world sustainably. It combines electrochemical sensing innovations with statistical algorithms to understand soil nitrogen levels, and provide optimal nitrogen fertilisation instructions

Walk With Path Ltd (Essex) – Path Feel – an insole that acts in real time to its users’ needs by vibrating in response to pressure resulting in the user being able to feel the floor and achieving balance, as well as tracking walking to aid diagnosis

Alice SI Ltd (London) – bringing transparency to social funding – a decentralised social impact platform built on the Ethereum blockchain. It helps social organisations run projects transparently using smart contract-based incentives to ensure their impact is independently verified


Since joining the Trust in 2011, Vicki has been instrumental in the growth of the social tech movement in the UK, particularly through ground-breaking funding programmes providing vital finance and business support to socially motivated tech ventures.  An exponent of team working and diversity, Vicki’s leadership has fostered strong cross-sector collaborative partnerships and an expanding network of organisations and individuals supportive of the Trust’s vision for social tech.  An advocate of the enabling capabilities of social tech to effect meaningful change, Vicki’s expertise is sought after as a podcaster, panel member and awards judge.  Earlier this year, Vicki led the Trust’s separation from Nominet, establishing Social Tech Trust as an independent charity, providing the organisation with a strong bedrock upon which the Trust can continue to evolve and scale its social impact.

Vicki Hearn said, “I am extremely proud to have led this inspirational organisation and team for the last four years.  At a time of change in the tech sector, with the unwavering support of our Trustees, the team’s creativity, rigour, delivery excellence and shared passion have enabled us to make significant strides in pursuit of our purpose of transforming lives with tech.  With the Trust in a strong position, this seems the ideal moment to pass the baton to Ed so that he can lead the Trust on the next leg of its journey.  For me, a new quest awaits.”

Ed joined the Trust in 2016 to lead on the development and delivery of the Trust’s strategy and partnerships.  During this time, Ed has led on social investments including the £1m iAMDigital fund in partnership with Creative England and the Fair by Design fund, which in partnership with others, aims to raise up to £20m to end the poverty premium in the next 10 years.  His background in social investment and venturing, his career at the Cabinet Office and his compelling vision for the Trust’s future, makes Ed the ideal candidate to take the Trust forward.

Bill Liao, Chair of Trustees said, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Vicki for the dedication she has shown to the Trust over the last eight years.  Her passion for social tech, expertise and determination have been critical to establishing the Trust’s excellent delivery track record.  Her leadership of Social Tech Trust leaves an enduring legacy as we continue our purposeful work under Ed’s strong leadership.  We wish Vicki every success in her future endeavours and look forward to continuing our work with Ed and the Social Tech Trust team.”

 

Read Vicki’s reflections in her farewell blog.

 

 


The most innovative tech ventures transforming today’s major social challenges

Social Tech Trust – a leading charity dedicated to socially motivated tech, has today announced £400,000 in funding to nine inspiring ventures.  All demonstrate how tech can reach its transformative potential when it’s driven to realise one of the greatest opportunities of our time – equality.  These pioneering, early stage innovations complement the purpose of Social Tech Trust – to transform lives with tech.  With the Trust’s support, they have huge potential to grow from start-up to scale-up and play a pivotal role in re-shaping the UK’s relationship between tech and society.

Vicki Hearn, Social Tech Trust CEO, explains, “The ventures we’ve backed have social transformation at their heart and are delivering tech innovations that promote equality in the areas of Communities, Health and Wealth.  With our funding and support, they’ll have the best opportunity of securing later-stage investment so that they can continue to grow, maximising their social impact.”

Each venture will receive a grant of up to £45,000, plus additional support to scale their social impact.  Over the last 10 years, the Trust (previously known as Nominet Trust) has supported over 750 initiatives and invested over £30m in the flourishing social tech movement.

Tech to Unite Us ventures include:

Beam: Beam is the world’s first crowdfunding platform for employment training for homeless people, tackling homelessness by empowering homeless people to sustainably support themselves.

www.beam.org


Carefree:
 Carefree is a tech-driven social intervention designed to support and sustain unpaid carers, the invisible workforce that underpins our social care sector.  With the help of the hospitality industry they offer short breaks for full-time carers in hotels and holiday cottages throughout the UK.

www.carefreebreaks.com


Tribe Project:
The Tribe Project is a social action initiative to upskill members of the community in areas of inequality to become paid community carers.  Tribe brings people together locally to show where there is a need for some help, allows people to offer their support, records when the job has been completed, and measures the social value of the volunteering action.

www.tribeproject.org

As Alex Stephany, founder and CEO of Beam, one of the successful ventures enthused, “We’re thrilled to receive this funding at a pivotal time in our growth.  With the shocking homelessness problem in the UK, we see each day at Beam how technology can truly help people experiencing homelessness for the long-term – by supporting them to realise their potential as everything from bricklayers to accountants.  It’s not only the huge benefits we’ll see from the financial support, we’re also excited to work on an on-going basis with Social Tech Trust, who are experts in this field and will help us to maximise our own potential to scale and deliver significant positive social impact.”

Operating as an independent charity, and with Social Investment Business on Board as a new strategic partner, Social Tech Trust is confronting fractures in today’s society.  By focusing on radical approaches that tackle significant social challenges, such as delivering community care, improving the life chances of homeless people, or harnessing the untapped talent in the refugee community, Social Tech Trust – together with their new cohort of ventures – are making transformative changes that tackle issues at their root cause, inspiring us all to champion societal inclusion.

The full list of the nine ventures are:

Beam – www.beam.org
Beam is the world’s first crowdfunding platform for employment training for homeless people, tackling homelessness by empowering homeless people to sustainably support themselves.


Carefree – www.carefreebreaks.com

Carefree is a tech-driven social intervention designed to support and sustain unpaid carers, the invisible workforce that underpins our social care sector.  With the help of the hospitality industry they offer short breaks for full-time carers in hotels and holiday cottages throughout the UK, managed via their automated booking platform.


Chatterbox –
www.wearechatterbox.org

Chatterbox is a platform that enables high-skilled refugees to do work that leverages their skill set and ultimately facilitates rapid socio-economic reintegration of these refugees into society. The platform currently offers language-learning courses that connect professionals to refugee tutors from a similar professional background to guide them through an engaging online language curriculum.


Feebris – www.feebris.com

Feebris is a mobile health platform, powered by AI, that enables non-medical users to diagnose and monitor complex health conditions in the community.


On our Radar –
www.onourradar.org

Radius, from On our Radar, closes the gap between those with needs and those with influence. It uses simple mobile technology to unlock the insight held by vulnerable communities, turning their experiences into expertise.


RightsDD –
www.rightsdd.com

RightsDD is building software to help companies identify, address and report on modern slavery in their supply chains.


StreetBuilder – www.thefuturefox.com/streetbuilder

StreetBuilder is a web platform that helps ordinary people to transform their neighbourhood. It crowdsources scheme proposals from communities and validates them in real time in a novel, digital, application of co-creation.


The Tribe Project – www.tribeproject.org
The Tribe Project is a social action initiative to upskill members of the community in areas of inequality to become paid community carers.  Tribe brings people together locally to show where there is a need for some help, allows people to offer their support, records when the job has been completed and measures the ‘social value’ of the volunteering action.


Workerbird –
www.workerbird.co.uk

Workerbird helps low-wage workers collect what they deserve. Workers use the Workerbird platform to track their work life and pay, get valuable data insights about their working patterns, understand their rights as an employee and receive support to improve their working conditions.

For media enquiries and interview requests, please contact Nicola Renshaw on nicola@renshawcommunications.co.uk or 07834 352432.